Innocent man jailed for rape. War in Iraq justification came from false intelligence acquired through torture.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on yesterday’s release of 44 year old innocent man who has spent his entire adult life in prison. “After a brief hearing this afternoon in a Cobb County courtroom, Robert Clark, who has spent nearly 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, was free.” This was the first article I read this morning.
The second news story I heard about today was of The New York Times reporting, “The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.”
The TV then cut to coverage of the daughter of an American Quaker man who is one of the Christian Peacemakers Team being held under threat of death if the captors demands are not met.
At that point my husband began reciting all the distruths he could think of interspersed with Orwellian quotes.
War is peace.
America does not torture.
George W. Bush was legitimately elected.
Joe Lieberman is a good Democrat.
2 + 2 = 5
I feel safer now.
Humanitarian aid is a criminal and suberversive act.
Torture leads to truth.
We never sentence innocent persons to prison or to death.
There are times when I think of my country and become truly afraid of the evil done in my name, when I am overcome with nausea, and just want to sit down and cry. Maybe it was yesterday’s reminder of how unfair life so often is that put me in this frame of mind. John Lennon has been gone for 25 years and it is still hard to believe.
Twenty-five years ago a shock wave traveled throughout this world and a large number of nearby alternate dimensions.
It was late evening 25 years ago when I heard the news. I’d just come up the stairs from the basement of the house where I had been prepping the walls for sealing. I was 21 and had just purchased my first mortgage. I heard the news over the radio… the station was WXRT, Chicago. John Lennon had been shot in front of the Dakota in NYC. I really don’t know how much later it was when they announced that John was dead. It was impossible. I kept listening, waiting for an announcement that it was some sort of mistake. I got almost no sleep that night. The next day as I dressed for work I made the same decision as thousands of people all over the world made that day: to wear black to symbolize the profound loss I personally felt. John had shaped my life in ways I couldn’t begin to consciously or accurately innummerate. My life had been, up until that date, partially chronicled by what John was doing at each stage of my life. He was real to me. He was there, somehow included in so many of my milestone memories:
I looked up from a toybox to see the four boys from Liverpool deplane in America. “Liverpool,” what a silly name though my six year old self.
My first romantic dream took place in rowboat on a nearby lake, that looked more like Giverny than northern Indiana, and involved the Fab Four.
As a preteen I used to pretend, as I played in my room, that I was living in flat in London and that I knew the Beatles and would entertain them — especially John. I would listen to the Revolver LP over and over and over again on a tiny childsize record player. “Relax and float downstream. It is not dying.” At that I knew I would have to explore both drugs and eastern religions when I was old enough.
I tried to make my first investment when I saw a copy of Two Virgins in a small town 5 and 10 cent store and tried to purchase it because I knew it hadn’t been allowed in the U.S. with that cover. My mother wouldn’t let me buy it, although I argued and argued and argued that it would be a valuable artifact someday.
I had an intellectual argument with my first boyfriend about whether the line in American Pie was “Lennon read a book on Marx” or “Lenin read a book on Marx” as we walked back to a wooded area to roll about in a sleeping bag one cloudy afternoon when I was 15.
Coming home from college was often accompanied by my live-in boyfriend and I singing , “The two of us lifting latches…” as we drove back to our shared hometown.
Then John taught me and an entire generation that heroes are mortal. “Strawberry Fields” forever.
At that point I lost my faith for what would be decades. No God would allow such a significant man working for peace, capable of writing “Imagine,” to be shot like vermin in the gutter.
After 9/11 when there was the concert for New York, I realized my belief/faith was still there although it is a mustard seed-sized faith grown wise. To me, Imagine is a hymn. The price of wisdom is great. Goodness exists but it exists through choice. I know it sounds strange to most people, and I don’t know where it comes from, but when you consciously open your life to the greater good, paths emerge before you that you could never have been seen before that conscious decision. Perhaps it is divine guidance, perhaps it is a recognition of iterations of and relationship between patterns in the universe. I don’t know that I will ever know. But I do know with a calm, sad certainty that far too few beings have chose that path. Some of my ancestors and compatriots use the word, calling, to describe this choosing as an audible experience. It does feel like you are being called or tugged in a certain direction. All I know is that there are generous and gentle souls who have a rightness about their work. I choose to emulate them as best I can, although my best is not very good.
No one who has touched this rightness could wage pre-emptive war, engage in or condone torture, or feel that lies are ever justified.
It is time for all good people to stop the evil being done in their names as best they can. Good people can never act to the conscious detriment of others. I cannot maintain awareness at all times, but I can imagine — as John did, and others do. I can try to increase conscious awareness, imagining, and love.
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